Like Water for Chocolate


Laura Esquivel

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Themes and Colors
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Like Water for Chocolate, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Love Theme Icon

The novel portrays love as a magical force capable of defying reality. It is genuine love, not social or biological structures, that creates familial and romantic bonds. True love is a unique event, capable of incredible resilience. Furthermore, true love doesn’t always answer to social codes of morality.

In the novel romantic love forms a spiritual bond that matters more than the formal structure of marriage. Central to the book is the notion that Pedro and Tita are each other’s true loves. Tita and Pedro swear their undying love when they first meet each other, and though forbidden by Mama Elena and later by Pedro’s marriage to Rosaura, the lovers struggle with their prevailing desire to be together. They remain loyal to each other, even though Rosaura has the official title of Pedro’s wife. Tita is unable to recreate the same kind of love with anyone else, including the kind Dr. John Brown, who loves and supports her unconditionally. After Tita and Pedro begin a secret affair, Gertrudis eases Tita’s guilt by reasoning that true love is more sacred than the roles of husband and wife.

Just as romantic love often exists outside of marriage, Esquivel also shows that maternal love can exist outside of biological mother-child relationships. Tita considers Nacha, who loves her and whom she loves, to be her real mother. Tita’s love for Rosaura’s children is immense, allowing her to love and care for them as if they were her own children.

Love defies the borders of reality, creating the magical realism that permeates the novel. The pain of Tita’s forbidden love causes her to develop the magical power to convey her emotions through her cooking. When she feels heartbroken, those who eat her food feel heartbroken as if her pain were their own. When Pedro and Tita finally make love, their bedroom explodes with firework-like magical colors and musical sounds, which can be seen and heard from outside the door. When they die, their “inner matches” are all lit, creating a fire that consumes them. In a spectacular scene, the fire creates a volcano that shoots firecrackers into the sky and leaves the land covered in fertile ash.

Even outside of romance, maternal love creates magic. Tita’s breast magically fills with milk, even though she is a virgin, purely out of her love for baby Roberto. The mother-child love between Tita and Nacha allows them to communicate even after Nacha’s death. Nacha’s ghost whispers recipes into Tita’s ears, and guides Tita through delivering Rosaura’s baby.

The pursuit of romantic love, though noble, can bring arduous moral dilemmas, however, which can have painful consequences both to the lovers and to others involved. Tita and Pedro’s adulterous relationship brings suffering to Rosaura and difficult complications to Tita’s life. Tita breaks Dr. Brown’s heart by breaking her engagement to him, despite his immense kindness and love for her. Because Tita loves Pedro, she would rather remain his mistress and miss the opportunity to be with a man who would give her a legitimate social standing as his wife. The novel validates the concept of true love in the end by showing the two lovers as lighting all of each other’s “inner matches” in the end. As Morning Light taught John, that event results only from the complete happiness that occurs when someone finds the perfect expression of true love.

The novel also justifies the pursuit of true love by depicting the unhappiest characters as those who have given up on true love. In contrast, the most joyful and loving characters are those who have found and fought for true love. Mama Elena, who lost her lover Jose Treviño, rejects love by denying her daughters the chance to pursue it for themselves. She becomes bitter, unhappy, and cruel. Likewise, Rosaura accepts a loveless marriage to Pedro over the possibility of finding her own love. She loses her relationships with her sisters, and becomes consumed with jealousy and insecurity. In contrast, Gertrudis and Tita don’t give up on their true loves. They both nurture a spirit of love and honesty, bringing people together around them and maintaining their relationship with each other despite years of separation. The novel ultimately portrays true love as a life-giving force that nurtures the spirit and creates more happiness than it does pain. The pursuit of true love is key to being true to oneself, which leads to freedom.

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Love ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Love appears in each chapter of Like Water for Chocolate. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Love Quotes in Like Water for Chocolate

Below you will find the important quotes in Like Water for Chocolate related to the theme of Love.
Chapter 1: January Quotes

You don’t have an opinion, and that’s all I want to hear about it. For generations, not a single person in my family has ever questioned this tradition, and no daughter of mine is going to be the one to start.

Related Characters: Mama Elena (Elena de la Garza) (speaker), Tita de la Garza
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Not that night, nor many others, for as long as she lived, could she free herself from that cold.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza
Related Symbols: Coldness/ Chills, Tita’s Bedspread
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2: February Quotes

She felt like screaming. Yes, she was having problems, when they had chosen something to be neutered, they’d made a mistake, they should have chosen her. At least then there would be some justification for not allowing her to marry and giving Rosaura her place beside the man she loved.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Mama Elena (Elena de la Garza), Pedro Musquiz
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3: March Quotes

Mama Elena’s eyes were as sharp as ever and she knew what would happen if Pedro and Tita ever got the chance to be alone […] She had let one little thing slip past her: With Nacha dead, Tita was the best qualified of all the women in the house to fill the vacant post in the kitchen, and in there flavors, smells, textures and the effects they could have were beyond Mama Elena’s iron command.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Mama Elena (Elena de la Garza), Pedro Musquiz
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

It was as if a strange alchemical process had dissolved her entire being in the rose petal sauce, in the tender flesh of the quails, in the wine, in every one of the meal’s aromas. That was the way she entered Pedro’s body, hot, voluptuous, perfumed, totally sensuous.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Gertrudis, Pedro Musquiz
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4: April Quotes

She stopped grinding, straightened up, and proudly lifted her chest so Pedro could see it better. His scrutiny changed their relationship forever. After that penetrating look that saw through clothes, nothing would ever be the same. Tita saw through her own flesh how fire transformed the elements, how a lump of corn flour is changed into a tortilla, how a soul that hasn’t been warmed by the fire of love is lifeless, like a useless ball of corn flour. In a few moment’s time, Pedro had transformed Tita’s breasts from chaste to experienced flesh, without even touching them.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Pedro Musquiz
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

The baby’s cries filled all the empty space in Tita’s heart. She realized that she was feeling a new love; for life, for this child, for Pedro, even for the sister she had despised for so long. She took the child in her hands, carried him to Rosaura, and they wept together for a long while, holding the child.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Rosaura, Roberto
Related Symbols: Crying/ Tears
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5: May Quotes

[…] She placed the pigeon between her breasts to free her hands for the dangerous ladder, and climbed down from the dovecote. From then on, her main interest lay in feeding that pathetic baby pigeon. Only then did life seem to make sense. It didn’t compare with the satisfaction derived from nursing a human being, but in some way it was similar.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Roberto
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6: June Quotes

You must of course take care to light the matches one at a time. If a powerful emotion should ignite them all at once, they would produce a splendor so dazzling that it would illuminate far beyond what we can normally see; and then a brilliant tunnel would appear before our eyes, revealing the path we forgot the moment we were born, and summoning us to regain the divine origin we had lost. The soul ever longs to return to the place from which it came, leaving the body lifeless.

Related Characters: Dr. John Brown (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Morning Light/ “The Old Indian Woman”/ “The Kikapu”
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7: July Quotes

Tita was beginning to wonder if the feeling of peace and security that John gave her wasn’t true love, and not the agitation and anxiety she felt when she was with Pedro.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Pedro Musquiz, Dr. John Brown
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:

You know how men are. They all say they won’t eat off a plate that isn’t clean.

Related Characters: Chencha (speaker), Tita de la Garza
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

Now she finally understood the meaning of the expression “fresh as a head of lettuce” – that’s the odd, detached way a lettuce should feel at being separated abruptly from another lettuce with which it had grown up. It would be illogical to expect it to feel pain at this separation from another lettuce with which it had never spoken, nor established any type of communication, and which it only knew from its outer leaves, unaware that there were many others hidden inside it.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Mama Elena (Elena de la Garza)
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:

During the funeral Tita really wept for her mother. Not for the castrating mother who had repressed Tita her entire life, but for the person who had lived a frustrated love. And she swore in front of Mama Elena’s tomb that come what may, she would never renounce love.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Mama Elena (Elena de la Garza)
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8: August Quotes

Pedro! What are you doing here?
Without answering, Pedro went to her, extinguished the lamp, pulled her to a brass bed that had once belonged to her sister, Gertrudis, and throwing himself upon her, caused her to lose her virginity and learn of true love.

Related Characters: Tita de la Garza (speaker), The Narrator (speaker), Gertrudis, Pedro Musquiz
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10: October Quotes

The truth! The truth! Look, Tita, the simple truth is that the truth does not exist; it all depends on a person’s point of view. For example, in your case, the truth could be that Rosaura married Pedro, showing no loyalty, not caring a damn that you really loved him, that’s the truth, isn’t it?

Related Characters: Gertrudis (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Rosaura, Pedro Musquiz
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11: November Quotes

I, I have some self-respect left! Let him go to a loose woman like you for his filthy needs, but here’s the thing; in this house, I intend to go on being his wife. And in the eyes of everybody else too. Because the day someone sees you two, and I end up looking ridiculous again, I swear that you’re going to be very sorry.

Related Characters: Rosaura (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Pedro Musquiz
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

Tita, it doesn’t matter to me what you did, there are some things in life that shouldn’t be given so much importance, if they don’t change what is essential. What you’ve told me hasn’t changed the way I think; I’ll say again, I would be delighted to be your companion for the rest of your life – but you must think over very carefully whether I am the man for you or not. If your answer is yes, we will celebrate our wedding in a few days. If it’s no, I will be the first to congratulate Pedro and ask him to give you the respect you deserve.

Related Characters: Dr. John Brown (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Pedro Musquiz
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12: December Quotes

Esperanza went to the best school, with the object of improving her mind. Tita, for her part, taught her something just as valuable: the secrets of love and life as revealed by the kitchen.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Esperanza
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

Little by little her vision began to brighten until the tunnel again appeared before her eyes. There at its entrance was the luminous figure of Pedro waiting for her. Tita did not hesitate. She let herself go to the encounter, and they wrapped each other in a long embrace; again experiencing an amorous climax, they left together for the lost Eden. Never again would they be apart.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Rosaura, Pedro Musquiz, Esperanza
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis: